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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  July 6, 2017 8:45pm-9:01pm BST

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in the new campaign dame esther rantzen talks about her late husband's treatment for heart disease. it was crucial he went to the gp. he had to be persuaded by telling him it was something macho like an executive checkup but thank goodness he went because it gave us 15 extra years we would not have had. john says that first visit to his gp means he is managing a potentially very serious condition. the campaign's aim is to ensure many others will take the same action. the headlines on bbc news... protests in hamburg as world leaders gather for the 620 summit — police say a planned march has been cancelled. a watchdog says a quarter of adult care services in england are not safe enough, and in some cases residents are not getting enough to eat or drink. a year after his report on the iraq war, sirjohn chilcot says tony blair wasn't "straight with the country" about his decisions.
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an update on the market numbers for you — here's how london's and frankfurt ended the day. and in the the united states this is how the dow and the nasdaq are getting on. just taking you back briefly to hamburg. this is theresa may's plane that has arrived on the runway there at hamburg airport. the royal air force plane, it has been for a few minutes. no sign of the prime minister yet but pretty surely she will be coming down the steps there and joining the otherworldly users who have already arrived.... already there, he has been meeting angela merkel. the prime minister taking her time to get off that plane but the red carpet waiting for her and elsewhere in hamburg this evening we
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have been seeing demonstrations. these are live pictures of riot police with their white helmets and early on were charging some of the protesters. many of these protesters anti—capitalist protesters. welcome to hell was the name of one of the demonstrations. the police broke up a demonstration we were hearing early on because some of the protesters were wearing black bala clavas protesters were wearing black balaclavas and masks and disguises, which they're not allowed to do, so have been some clashes, water cannon fire, pepper spray fired as well. now it's time for meet the author. migration, human dislocation is one of the dominating political themes of our day. and it is the springboard for neel mukherjee in his new novel, a state of freedom. set in india, which portrays five different, but sometimes interlocking, lives that are in flux, on the move, looking for escape,
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or at least something better. a story for our time indeed. welcome. on the frontispiece of the book, before the story begins, you quote a syrian refugee on the austrian border, saying: "migrants, we're not migrants — we're ghosts. that's what we are, ghosts". now, the ghost is sort of suspended between this world and the next. is that the guts of that idea? yes, that is exactly the soul of my book. i wanted to look at migration, which is the thing that most characterises our times. people moving, mass movement of people from one place to another. and i wanted to sort of splice their history by thinking about the ghost story. because, what is a ghost? a ghost is something,
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a ghost is a creature that has not found settlement in some way. which exactly is what a migrant is. and the unhappy history of migration in the 20th and the 21st century. and i wanted to look at the history of people moving. but not in the form of the immigrant novel, which has become sclerotic, i think. but i wanted to look at the movements of people, whether voluntarily to look for a better life or enforced by warorfamine... within one country? within one country. in this case, india. your country of origin, obviously, where you were born and went to school. we're just about 70 years since the partition of india. so that must be very heavily on your mind at the moment. it wasn't in my mind when i wrote the book. but now that you mention it, ithink, you know, when you think of partition, what is it that... what is the first thing that you think of when partition was mentioned? you think of migration, of people, you think of the movement of people,
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and the very unhappy movement of people. and people being cut off as well. people are being cut off, carnage, violence, destruction. we now have to look at 70 years of partition, we have to focus on that kind of migration, too. the book is structured in five sections, really. and you look at different people. but we discover as we go through that there are links, slightly elusive links, very slightly. again, this is touching a new sort of ghostlike theme. yes. and of course in india, i think people who go there for the first time often find that the closeness, the gritty reality around them, and the world of the imagination and the spiritual, i mean, there's a very, very small gap between the two in the culture. and i wanted to do something like that with the book, to sort of, you know, bend realism within, if you will. to have that surface of nitty—gritty realism, as you call it, and not to blink while i was sort of detecting that on the page.
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and at the same time, to push that realism into its anti—form, if you will, by thinking about ghost stories, by thinking about migration, and by also letting the coherence brought to the book by the reader in the way with those elusive links. of course, there's an irony in the title. you call it a state of freedom, but it's a strange kind of freedom. well, when you think of freedom, the first thing you think of is constraints, don't you? and i also wanted to play on the notion of state, you know. notjust a mental state or a state of being, but state is in a nation state. and i am trying to say something about india now. and i was also trying to allude to nehru's great speech during independence. the tryst with destiny speech. and i wanted to have, the title to have all of those echoes behind it. but the destiny that you implied that awaits us is a pretty bleak one?
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yes, at this moment in my life i do not feel very hopeful about our species. yes, i must admit that. i mean, you can't get blu nter than that. no, this is the truth. you think we're done for? i think we're done for, yes. why? well, you know, climate change is one very obvious reason why i think we're done for. i think we've run out of time. i think politically, the whole world is headed towards a certain way that is leaning on perhaps the worst in ourselves. but there is also the best in ourselves. and even in this book, where people are lost, adrift, there are glimpses of humanity, and you must believe in the power of that humanity. i do believe it on the individual scale, yes, of course. but aggregated, something happens, we become something different, i think. no, of course, i give you that there are hopeful things in the world, there are good people in the world, and good happens. but i think good is losing
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at the moment, ifeel. in that case, where do you think these people in the book are going to end up? i think perhaps the children of one of the characters in section... the central character of section four, they are going to end up in a better place than their parents. this is something ifind very effecting about india, actually. the fact that education in the country is aspirational, it's a key to a better life, which is what migration is all about, movement to a better life. and i think she will give, her name is millie, she will give that key to her children. and i hope that beyond the page you can imagine a better life for the children. do you find yourself becoming more depressed about the world around? i mean, you say that you need to look at the world as a writer and not blink, because all of your instincts are that you want to turn away and close your eyes. but that is the only trick a writer needs to know, actually. you know, i keep saying that great writers don't teach you how to write.
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like older writers i look up to, older writers who are considered the masters, they don't teach you how to write, they teach you how to look at the world. and i think one of the ways to look at the world is in a very unblinking way. and i think this is what i want to do, this is what i attempt to do, actually try and look at the world without blinking. when you say that great writers have inspired you and taught you how to look at the world rather than how to write in some mechanical way, who are the great writers who've most influenced you in that regard? i think vs naipaul has been a very great influence on me. and also i read a lot of speculative and science fiction and imaginative fiction. a very underrated writer called m john harrison, who thinks very carefully about form. so, m john harrison once said in an interview that always think of what it is that a genre cannot do, and then push it in that direction. i think it's current in my heart, that's a great lesson. and science—fiction writers can imagine things,
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or they want to imagine things, that others don't. on a cosmic scale, it goes without saying. and that appeals to you, because you seem to believe that the planet would do a lot better without any of us around. yes, this is a central theme of a lot of speculative and science—fiction writers now. saying actually, you know, if you take out the humans as a species, maybe very peacefully and quickly so that there is no pain, i think that the planet would be doing a lot better. it can recover, ifeel. so, when you finished the book, does that mean there was no sense of elation, that you still felt trapped in this veil of tears? well, i don't normally feel elation when i finished the book. i feel bereft. but i felt, you know, the book does not end hopefully. and it ends with a kind of freedom for a particular character, but it's a very radical kind of freedom, a liberation that he finds. and i thought i'd written a more hopeful book than my previous one,
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but then my editors disagreed. but, you know, as i said, not to blink when you're writing something. neel mukherjee, author of a state of freedom, thank you very much. thank you. what a day and we're not done quite yet, another three hours yet! at its best, glorious across the southern half of the british isles, 32 celsius down the road in twickenham. heathrow, 32 celsius. in norwich, the wise woman had a good sense to be the right side of the window before she saw the thunderstorms coming. just of late we have had another crop of them as was forecast just begin to pop up through lincolnshire, yorkshire and on towards the north—east. whilst they're around towards the north—east. whilst they‘ re around another two towards the north—east. whilst they're around another two or three
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hours yet, standing water, sprays, gusty winds, hail as well. eventually they drift off closer to the rakes. then we may face for another weather front to push into the north west of scotland, the next ina the north west of scotland, the next in a succession we have seen of late. further south it is sticky overnight, possibly i9 celsius as the night—time low and from that base off we go again in some areas. 20 celsius in the capital before the date is too far gone. some cloud across western parts and the cloud at its biggest, still some rain about it. disappointing for the first week in july. about it. disappointing for the first week injuly. the rate will have been through northern ireland in bits and pieces overnight but gradually clearing away there. then we're off and running through the day. we just drag this cloud with the weakening front and rain fizzling even in scotland down across england. after a bright start the cloud will fill in across wales, the cloud will fill in across wales, the midlands and eastern parts of england. to the south with a bit of
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brightness still at 27 or 28 celsius. nowhere near as warm across the north of england given the absence of sunshine in place. brighter skies further north and a fresh appeal in scotland and northern ireland. that weatherfront hangs back to another development which will gradually work its way along this weather front as we move onto the weekend. but it doesn't that particularly cheery, especially if you are near that weather front. the rain will ease with time through the day but it will be murky, welsh hills and the top end of the pennines as well. the south still some of our pennines as well. the south still some of oui’ summer pennines as well. the south still some of our summer warmth, still some of our summer warmth, still some sunshine for scotland and northern ireland. saturday into sunday, this system just pushing the threat of a shower into southern areas and another set of weather front yet again for the northern and western isles, the north of the mainland but there is a slice in between where sunday looks pretty acceptable. a lot going on, more on the bbc website. hello, i'm ros atkins, this is 0utside source live from hamburg, where the g20
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will be taking place. it is not overstating things to say this summit could shape the world's response to other problems. angela merkel and donald trump might be the most prominent personalities in the next couple of days. donald trump flew in from warsaw, in which he gave this speech, with this warning about western separation. there are dire threats for our security and to our way of life. since then, he's met with german chancellor angela merkel. we know they don't agree on many things, including climate change.
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